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I have a "zero" chance to succeed in Poland - I do not have a degree!


teabag 9 | 19  
5 Apr 2009 /  #1
25 years after leaving Poland, a career of sorts in technology, I had a go at working in my field in Poland in 2007. I failed. Not because I was not competent but because I grew sick and tired of being ridiculed by co-workers for not having what? - A degree!

When I started my 1st job in early 80's in the UK few of us had degrees. Most were engineers and scientists by passion. Today I do well working alongside PhD's in a US tech firm. It's not a question of getting a degree since it would probably be quite easy, more about how an aspiring European nation can have such a petty and superstitious mindset that a man or woman becomes an automatic outcast for not putting their mgr. inz. prof. doc. before their name everywhere. In Poland it goes unnoticed that an article can read like this: "Władysława Bloggowski "Cztery mile za plot" (or similar), opracowana przez wydawnictwo.. etc etc. ..mowi o czterech dżentelmenach, wszyscy po studiach, doskonały Jerzy Trela, najlepsza rola), doktor nauk humanistycznych.."

Polish gentelmenach? Yeah, met a few of those. :)
Wroclaw 44 | 5,388  
5 Apr 2009 /  #2
Not because I was not competent but because I grew sick and tired of being ridiculed by co-workers for not having what? - A degree!

There is a strange mindset that a degree is essential and you are no-one without one.

But of course not everyone has one.
mafketis 20 | 7,162  
5 Apr 2009 /  #3
As a general rule, Poles love the idea of 'qualifications' where qualification = piece of paper that certify a person knows/or can do X.

In the US at any rate what's more important (traditionally) is the idea of 'skills' where skills = demonstrated ability to do X in real world conditions.

The Polish attitude is shared by most countries in Eastern/Southern Europe (and Germany which is neither).
esek 2 | 228  
5 Apr 2009 /  #4
I agree, no degree = no career in Poland.. well, not always, but still... on the other hand when I'm looking at English/US job ads ... maybe 10% of them require some kind of degree.... skills are just more important there.

Other thing - maybe 10% of job ads in Poland mention salary that you can get. Most of employers don't tell you how much they're able to pay you... they'll ask you how much you would like to earn instead (and that's how the cheapest workers almost always win the competition).

I hate this two things in Poland...
MrBubbles 10 | 614  
5 Apr 2009 /  #5
I hate this two things in Poland...

I know. And the amazing thing is when the employer genuinely can't understand why his firm is so crap when he's got bargain bucket staff who leave when they can get more money, his children / wives / cousins in the top positions and the rest of the workers have got Masters degrees that were given away in Christmas crackers.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
5 Apr 2009 /  #6
Some very successful people I know don't have one (my friend, a merchant navy Captain at 31, for example). They prefer industry-based qualifications which place the emphasis on skills.

Bill Gates didn't have one either. I know many more that do have degrees who can't find a job anywhere.
Davey 13 | 388  
5 Apr 2009 /  #7
I know many more that do have degrees who can't find a job anywhere.

Yep, unfortunately you can be underqualified and also overqualified.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
5 Apr 2009 /  #8
Yet one more pretext and justification in the long list of excuses not to hire sb.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,625  
5 Apr 2009 /  #9
As I see it, the whole problem in Poland is that it's simply far too easy to obtain a Masters level degree in the first place. It's absolutely ridiculous that someone can be walking around with a Masters level degree - yet they might have obtained pathetic grades their entire way through.

The fact that there's many people out there with a Masters working for less than a Callan teacher gets says a significant amount about the actual value of the degree to employers - and proves that it's simply an idiotic mentality towards higher education being a good judge.

I've actually heard of one English school in Poznan that values a degree in any subject as being worth more than the CELTA. I don't understand it.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
5 Apr 2009 /  #10
It's just elitism, delph. Many Poles are very defensively proud and will attempt to raise the profile in any way. They often cheat their way through. This is an inbuilt mentality, to get a good result by fair means or foul.
OP teabag 9 | 19  
6 Apr 2009 /  #11
What I gathered is the letters before your name are an offensive weapon dealing with people outside your family. You could call it down right irresponsible but actually my 3 kids have been in primary schools in 4 different countries: Canada, US, England and Poland. Luckily they are multilingual,extrovert and did o.k. in all. It gave me an excellent insight into how these countries schools compare:

Schools in England- children and teachers very friendly, good equipment, level of teaching fairly good, project based, most emphasis on team work, little homework, plenty of encouragement and less competition in the class. Teachers appreciate feedback and help from parents.

Canada - all the above but lower expected level to pass.
Poland - more rough treatment of children, teachers can get away with short temper/ sarcastic comments in the classroom. The level is cranked up by fear and memorizing a lot of material. Parents are expected to teach at home helping with homework (lots of)

very little is project based. There is strong rivalry among children and "friendly" is not easy to find.
US - feedback from parents is not encouraged. The expected level seems higher than in England. All project/problem based work in classroom. Almost no memorizing except in geography or languages. Lots of homework exercise in major subjects. More competitive than England. Very tight regime of rules of what is, or is not allowed. Friendly: better than Poland worse than England/ Canada.
Makdaam - | 30  
6 Apr 2009 /  #12
It's not about elitism, at least not among normal people*. During high unemployment years (early 90's) most businesses chose to employ people with titles. That's why there was a lot of demand for getting one. Demand was met with supply when private univs started to pop up. First it was on a "buy-a-degree" basis. So of course degrees from private univs weren't regarded as "real education" in comparison to public univs. Later the level equalised mostly due to competition between private schools, employing more and more professors from public ones. The main difference between private and public schools today are the students. Most private school students were rejected by public ones. Public ones can't collect money for daytime studies, so most have entry exams while private ones try to maximize profits and use “matura” grades for recruitment requirements.

Since education in Poland was and is "free" for the best students (no semester based payments required) in comparison to commercialized US higher education, people with lots of skill never had much problems with getting MA (bachelor was introduced recently). That's why a person without a degree even in a private school is percieved as someone without ambitions.

* there are still people (I mostly encouter them among language and philology teachers) that feel offended when not addressed by their title, quote “Here in the Poznan University of Technology the proper way to address science staff is by their title, so please use 'pani magister' in the future”, which was quite funny... usually only the title “proffesor” is used when addressing a well known and respected prof.
niejestemcapita 2 | 561  
6 Apr 2009 /  #13
3 kids have been in primary schools in 4 different countries: Canada, US, England and Poland.

Interesting what you have observed Mrs Teabag.........
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098  
6 Apr 2009 /  #14
the idea of 'skills' where skills = demonstrated ability to do X in real world conditions.

Brilliant thread.
If you don't have degree you don't have a right to know anything better.
polishcanuck 7 | 462  
6 Apr 2009 /  #15
When I started my 1st job in early 80's in the UK few of us had degrees. Most were engineers and scientists by passion.

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but these days are long gone - and good riddance too. Today, if you want to be an engineer, for example, you need a degree.

As I see it, the whole problem in Poland is that it's simply far too easy to obtain a Masters level degree in the first place. It's absolutely ridiculous that someone can be walking around with a Masters level degree - yet they might have obtained pathetic grades their entire way through.

I agree. Here is canada it is quite competitive to get into a master's program and few people hold this title.

However, in poland this obsession for a "magister" developed during the commie times when the commies introduced evening classes so the "working class" could get a degree (commie politics at work). This was a scandalous undertaking as the expectations were signficantly lowered so that these people could pass.

Just think for example, how the hell can one complete a 4yr engineering degree while working a full time job???????????????????????????????? Being an engineering student in a full time job in and of itself!!!

So to differentiate between the "day" university programs and the "evening" university programs, it was decided that the evening degree holders would NOT be eligible for a master's degree. So those who did took day classes went into the master's program to differentiate themselves from the others whose degrees were not and still are not well respected in poland.

Today you can often hear people boasting about their "magister" just to show everyone that they completed the "legit" uni and not the despised evening classes.

Nevertheless, I still find it disconcerting that polish universities hand out master's degrees like candy on halloween.
opts 10 | 260  
6 Apr 2009 /  #16
Anywhere you will go, businesses want people with degrees. Poland is not an exception. I live in US, I don’t think you can find a proressinal job without a degree. You do not need a degree to start your own business. Stop crying. (You can flip hamburgers without a degree.) Go back to school and get a degree.
OP teabag 9 | 19  
6 Apr 2009 /  #17
Go back to school and get a degree.

Ouch!!

;)
z_darius 14 | 3,969  
6 Apr 2009 /  #18
Poland - more rough treatment of children, teachers can get away with short temper/ sarcastic comments in the classroom. The level is cranked up by fear and memorizing a lot of material. Parents are expected to teach at home helping with homework (lots of)
very little is project based. There is strong rivalry among children and "friendly" is not easy to find.

Let's see:

more rough treatment of children, teachers can get away with short temper - somebody has to win. In the US and Canada kids rule. In Poland that's teachers. I fail to see a problem with that.

The level is cranked up by fear and memorizing a lot of material. - like kids actually have to learn and remember what they learn?! Unbelievable! And to think that in the US and Canada you don't have to actually know much and still get the diploma.

Parents are expected to teach at home helping with homework (lots of) - damned if you do, damned if you don't. I'd say parents working with their own kids is a good thing. You know, quality time, the family values and "stuff". Better than kids being taught by Nintendo or Playstation 3 while the parents plow through six packs, no?

very little is project based - these projects were always something I absolutely abhorred when my daughter was in the so called "high" school. It's basically a forced labor where one or two kids work their asses off while another 2 or 3 do squat and everybody in the group gets the same mark.

There is strong rivalry among children and "friendly" is not easy to find. - you mean like real life? Oh no! We need to protect children from reality. Let their butts be kicked by life when they leave school and they realize the world does not consider them cute and smart until they prove they actually are.

Btw. I work in IT and I do have a degree. Without it I could clean a neighbor's computer from spyware, or open my own business. Wherever I applied, successfully or not, one of the requirements was ALWAYS a university diploma in Computer Science. I worked in the US and Canada.

Here is a sample of requirements from place I just found for this post, where you would actually like to work. That sample is not an unique:

IT Security Architect

•University Degree in Computer Science
•CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) designation preferred.
•CISSP or SSCP Certification preferred.
•Formal training in project management.

Looks like they are looking some credentials, doesn't it?

Heck, a friend who came to Canada wanted to get a job in construction. No problem if he had a "diploma from a recognized school". Yup, 20 years of experience meant little.

Does anybody know what Google, Dell, Siemens etc looked at when they decided to open facilities in Poland? They were not looking for expats without degrees. They were interested in solid academic base, especially in IT, which in Poland doesn't appear too shabby.
OP teabag 9 | 19  
6 Apr 2009 /  #19
these projects were always something I absolutely abhorred when my daughter was in the so called "high" school.

Well, I won't argue. the thing is I came here thinking that US schools were rubbish, beacuse folks in Europe, who all read the same newspapers now, had told me so, but found that the schools here were better than in Europe. I like the concept of primary children being taught how to give a speech or a presentation, or how to manage other people, how to design and build a prototype of something of their own and describe it. These skills I remember pretty thin on the ground among graduates. MOre so in Poland than in England. If you tell me its the other way round then I have a question: Can a country have any industry competing in the world if their schooling system is not o.k.? Does Poland manufacture, say a car of their own design? cause they do have a few car Technikum's and plytechnics? What about chemical industry, food industry etc. Do they do anything that is not brought in in blue print from outside? Aviation? eh? buying old jets from US,.. helicopters?

Another thing, I agree about home schooling, that its better if the parent teaches a child
at home, no question. But what are the teachers being paid for through my taxes?
Listing what the kids need to know and giving out a stonking "zadanie domowe"
seems a bit of a cop out, don't you think?
esek 2 | 228  
6 Apr 2009 /  #20
Just think for example, how the hell can one complete a 4yr engineering degree while working a full time

It's simple - you work from monday to friday and study on friday evening (5PM-8PM) saturday and sunday (from 8am to 8PM). Most of things you have to learn on your own at home... many people study like that. I don't think polish universities are easier from US/English ones (well, I heard many opposite stories... not important though). What is more important - in Poland public education on master degree is for free.... moreover till this year it was one of the best method (going to university) to not to go to army ;) Since 2009 if you don't want to you don't go to army so in my opinion there will be less people studying... also in my opinion education on master degree shouldn't be free - it should be treated as investment... of course there should be many different scholarships so anybody who really care could get one.
MrBubbles 10 | 614  
6 Apr 2009 /  #21
it's simply far too easy to obtain a Masters level degree in the first place

True - look at the number of students who find the time to study for two masters' degrees at the same time. Incredible.

It's basically a forced labor where one or two kids work their asses off while another 2 or 3 do squat and everybody in the group gets the same mark.

That's life, Z. But Project work offers so much more to the learner than parrot fashion rote memorisation. For example, the amount of technical information in the world is doubling every year - most of what a technical student 'memorises' in their first year will be out of date by the time they reach the third year. It will be even less at the end of five years. Traditional Polish University style memorisation appraches simply can't cope with the rate of change in these subjects.

In the US and Canada kids rule. In Poland that's teachers. I fail to see a problem with that.

But the students carry this on into everyday life. Do you want your children growing up following other peoples' orders all their lives? At 10 years old the teacher shouts at them and tells them they're stupid. At 20 years old, they gt a job with a guy who tells them theyr'e stupid and they have to work for nothing. When they get to 40, they're beating on their own workers. What kind of society is that going to be like?

Do they do anything that is not brought in in blue print from outside? Aviation? eh? buying old jets from US,.. helicopters?

Thanks Teabag. This really is a good post and something that's been bugging me about Education. Polish education thrives on tests - in a lot of ways they constitute te engine that drives the system here. However, tests grade students into clever and stupid, usually on the basis of memorised data and often at an age where such things are irrelevant. Tests push the child to fight with their peers for the best grades and the teacher's approval. How can this be good for a child's development?

Of course this is the kind of thing that industry loves. The Polish system pushes out huge numbers of perfect employees: respectful to authority, distrustful and competitive of each other, focussed on short term material gains (marks = salary), susceptible to persuasion and lacking any serious critical facilities, because that was the way it was at school.

I would never put my child through the Polish system
mafketis 20 | 7,162  
6 Apr 2009 /  #22
I would never put my child through the Polish system

Bubbly, do you really think the current English or American systems are any better?

From the systems I know something about (Polish / American) I'd ideally combine them roughly as follows:

American : grades 1-2 (relatively gently easing the kids into the system)

Polish : 3-12, university 1-2 (making them work)

American : university 3 and up (giving them room to explore)
delphiandomine 83 | 17,625  
6 Apr 2009 /  #23
Nevertheless, I still find it disconcerting that polish universities hand out master's degrees like candy on halloween.

It is very disconcerting, because many of these people are qualifying with a masters degree without any industrial experience whatsoever - I'm constantly hearing about people who have just finished a Masters degree who simply know absolutely nothing about how their profession works in the real world.

Something else I notice is the tendency for the lesser public universities (like the 'University of Life Sciences in Poznan' to bulk up the Masters with all sorts of absolutely useless modules with no relevance to the subject studied. To me, this simply devalues the qualification even further. It's fine if it's optional - but their horticulture programme for example has many absolutely worthless core modules across the 5 years.

At the very least, they should be imposing tougher requirements to go from an undergraduate degree to a postgraduate degree.

I do notice that many Poles simply do not understand that if everyone has a Masters degree, then the degree itself becomes worthless.

It's just elitism, delph. Many Poles are very defensively proud and will attempt to raise the profile in any way. They often cheat their way through. This is an inbuilt mentality, to get a good result by fair means or foul.

This is the other huge problem with the Polish system. I remeber two incidents very clearly in the UK to do with cheating.

First one, we were about to start the Standard Grade exams. We were sat down and told by our PSE teacher at the time that if any of us were caught cheating, or helping someone to cheat - then it would be instant failure in the exam and possibly a failure across all the exams. It was also made very clear that anyone caught cheating wouldn't be welcome in the school in future.

Second one, we were just starting my degree. First day, we were told very bluntly that if we were caught cheating, then we would lose all the credits gained to that point and probably be kicked out of the uni.

But in Poland, it seems the general punishment is simply to fail the person on that particular test. People seem institutionalised towards cheating, and they don't seem to understand that it devalues the entire system.

There's also, from what I can tell, a shocking lack of accountability when it comes to universities. We were told at my uni that we had to keep all our work as the external assessors could demand to see it at any time - and it could potentially be remarked. Here, it seems that once you've been given a grade, then the grade sticks no matter what - and the concept of second marking seems to be very alien to them.

It's sad, and I think it's a reflection of the general 'People vs The State' hangover from communism.
MrBubbles 10 | 614  
6 Apr 2009 /  #24
Bubbly, do you really think the current English or American systems are any better?

Well, no system, is perfect but in the current information rich climate, the Polish approach is inadequate. You can blame the poorly trained and badly motivated staff, the poor facilities and incompetent management but the bottom line is that the funadamental system is overdue for an update. Children need to be equipped for life working in the 21st century, not translating Latin texts in a monastry.

Look at this. How does traditional education deal wih these issues? :



American : grades 1-2 (relatively gently easing the kids into the system)
Polish : 3-12, university 1-2 (making them work)
American : university 3 and up (giving them room to explore)

Good analysis, although my first question is, what do you mean by 'work'? Is this the memorisation were were talking about earlier?
mafketis 20 | 7,162  
6 Apr 2009 /  #25
Is this the memorisation were were talking about earlier?

Well, a good educational system does not shy away from memorization, which is a skill like lots of others that needs to be honed and refined. And developing one's ability to memorize carries a lot of side benefits as well.

At the same time you can't depend too much on memorization and there should be lots of practice in:

a) learning how to apply knowledge gained to the real world

b) figuring out how to solve problems

At present the Polish system goes too far in the direction of context-free memorization (though not as far as many countries go) but some western countries go too far in the opposite direction for fear of taxing the fragile memories of the delicate little snowflakes.
z_darius 14 | 3,969  
6 Apr 2009 /  #26
I like the concept of primary children being taught how to give a speech or a presentation, or how to manage other people, how to design and build a prototype of something of their own and describe it.

These are great skills. Once you have something to say. Otherwise you end up with politicians. Great and uplifting speeches, disastrous results of their actual work. Mission accomplished anybody?

If you tell me its the other way round then I have a question: Can a country have any industry competing in the world if their schooling system is not o.k.? Does Poland manufacture, say a car of their own design?

They did, with whatever meager resources they had available to them during communism. Some designs were actually pretty good but were squashed by politicians i.e. commies.

Poland hasn't been exactly free to do what it wanted in the last few decades. They are picking up the pieces and moving on with some great designs. If you prefer smaller vehicles then a car described also on this very forum may be of interest to you. Pricey though.

Also, look at Korea and Japan where the educational system is more like Polish than American. Well, the US auto industry is pretty not far from being defunct. The Japanese and the Koreans beat the Americans in their own game.

What about chemical industry, food industry etc.

What food industry? You mean the bread with 6 months of shelf life? Food is food and I don't think Poland has any problems with that.

Do they do anything that is not brought in in blue print from outside? Aviation? eh? buying old jets from US,.. helicopters?

news.poland.com/result/news/id/1789 - Yes, they do

Or if you prefer helicopters consider buying one of those.

As for the jet liners, how could a small country like Poland even afford the enterprise. That has nothing to do with education in this case. It took multinational effort to build a new jet liner bigger and (better?) than US made jet liners.

Traditional Polish University style memorisation appraches simply can't cope with the rate of change in these subjects.

Memorization is only a foundation. I went to schools in Poland, US and Canada. I have some real life comparison, and in some cases in exact same fields of learning. Back in Poland it had been a wailing wall indeed. In the US and Canada a walk in the park for the most part. And that included project and group work. See, I actually knew things useful for the project and I was not limited to a little chapter of a manual or a small list of reading recommended for a given project.

Do you want your children growing up following other peoples' orders all their lives? At 10 years old the teacher shouts at them and tells them they're stupid. At 20 years old, they gt a job with a guy who tells them theyr'e stupid and they have to work for nothing. When they get to 40, they're beating on their own workers.

Something doesn;t jive in this picture. They had been conditioned to be yelled at and then they start yelling? Apparently the view you present is not very well thought through, eh?
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
6 Apr 2009 /  #27
It has a lot to do with perception. I take delph's point with regards to some courses not providing real-life skills and know-how. My first course was vocational and taught me things beyond just producing the goods come exam time. It was perhaps overly generic but balance is seldom easy to find these days. I coupled it with an academic law course, largely due to my grandparents fronting the money and me getting a scholarship. However, many companies didn't wanna know, leaving me in the lurch. It comes down to what many people say in Scotland, 'it's not what you know but who you know'.

Mafketis was right above. There needs to be more emphasis placed on practical application. I had a compulsory 6-month placement in my Bachelor's and I was grateful for it. It taught me the importance of working to deadlines and accurately collating data.

There are many components in a degree that are redundant and useless for some firms, this is also a problem.
z_darius 14 | 3,969  
6 Apr 2009 /  #28
There was when I lived in Poland. Lots of things to learn, and yes, memorize. I can't remember one single test or exam where I was expected to enumerate things I memorized. It was always some kind of analysis and problem solving based on what I had to memorize and understand. I still can't see how you can discuss issues and work on projects in disciplines where you have no idea about, or where youy are missing a lot of critical facts. Yes, facts first. Then you can tinker with interpreting them - this would be the proof the brain is actually working and connecting the dots. But again, you need to know about as many dots as possible. Otherwise the picture is only an approximation of reality.

I think some foreigners are thrown off by the curriculum and the method of teaching. What about the exams? Are they really just a list of questions where a set of facts, dates etc is sufficient to pass a test? It certainly hasn't been my experience in my 18 years in Polish schools.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
6 Apr 2009 /  #29
That's a good point. It's important not to tar the whole Polish education system with the same brush. We have Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE). Though not being mutually exclusive, there are noteworthy differences. According to mainstream opinion here, the MATURA qualification is getting progressively easier.

What I don't know is the conduit/intermediary bodies between tertiary education course providers and employers or EU schemes like Comenus and Erasmus/Sokrates. Transfer of knowledge and expertise is so important, otherwise it becomes redundant. I often felt peeved when I passed courses with a linear progression only to the next year of study. Yeah, this is common but I still felt that it was doing little more than what I was doing at secondary school. Course selection only came in my Honours and postgrad years, even then the syllabus was pretty tight.

What I feel that Poland could do is hammer home the importance of doing company research. This was spelled out to me in my first course, know your target companies well and take an interest. Tying it into the thread, there are many online tutorials and ways of improving your skillset which don't involve degrees. They are just door openers sometimes and even then.
MrBubbles 10 | 614  
6 Apr 2009 /  #30
Something doesn;t jive in this picture. They had been conditioned to be yelled at and then they start yelling? Apparently the view you present is not very well thought through, eh?

Well educated people tend to read between the lines. I'll be more explicit. The children become accustomed to a very simplistic authoritarian environment where one person is more powerful than another and tells them what to do. The problem is that this power is without any real basis - the child does what the teacher says because he it the teacher, similarly, the adult does what the government / boss says purely because they are the boss.

The converse is true too. When the adult takes a position of authority, they spend all their time kicking the plebs around because that is what they are used to. Of course the problem is when the more powerful person doesn't know what they are doing, or they don't have the best interests of their charges at heart. That situation obviously isn't good for anyone.

See, I actually knew things useful for the project

I dare say your colleagues got you to do all the donkey work. Sucker.

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